Blink 182’s Travis Barker: Why I’m Vegan

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“Ever since I found this way of eating I have endless amounts of energy. I can go all day, and never find myself getting tired"Getty Images

Travis Barker has just wrapped a two-hour-plus rehearsal with Blink 182, and his day is really just beginning. Next he is heading into the gym with trainer and friend Don Brooks for a customized 90-minute session before he steps behind the drum kit again with his friends from Goldfinger, as they prepare a set at his music-meets-tattoos festival, Musink. So what is Barker’s secret to keeping up with his cardio-packed days without gassing out? Staying true to a gluten-free, vegan diet that he has cultivated over decades.

Though Barker had been vegetarian since the age of 15, he made the switch to vegan nearly a decade ago as part of a promise he made to himself after surviving the plane crash with his friend DJ AM.* So far, so good.

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“Honestly, ever since I found this way of eating I have endless amounts of energy,” says Barker. “I can go all day, and after it all I never find myself getting tired. No matter what kind of shows I have done, or workouts I do on top of it, I still have to force myself to sleep at night.”  

The drummer managed to put his relentless day on pause to discuss creating his own training method, shake recipes, and how he stays fit on tour.

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How do you think your diet improves your performance?

Right from the first time that I started to really eat vegan I could feel how much it was affecting me. John Salley is one of the guys who I would run into a lot here in Los Angeles, and he always told me how the players who ate that way outperformed the others. I started to see that results for myself as well. Most recently I gave up on gluten, and that did incredible things for my functionality. I feel like there are a lot of people out there who may be allergic to it, but don’t even realize, and it is weighing them down.

You train hard too.

Don and I have created our own workout that really pushes me, but also keeps me interested. We call it Tempo Training. The main principle is that you do it either to a metronome or whatever the music that you like to listen to is. Then we will go through supersets or circuits of push-ups, pull-ups, and dips, sometimes a little boxing. Every day we change it up. But it is always on the beat. The point is to push yourself hard, but to never slow down. You have to keep on the tempo. Creating that kind of workout has been huge to helping me get ready for tours, because each day I end up playing for about two hours straight, and I need that stamina. Then to cap it all off I’ll do a little low-intensity workout, like an assault bike or an elliptical machine.

How else do you train?

I love to get into the boxing ring as much as I can, usually a few times a week. I will work a bit with Glenn Holmes, who has a gym in Los Angeles. I used to try to box while I was on tour, but when you work with boxing coaches that you don’t really know, you run the risk of getting hurt. I would end up sparring and feeling pain in my wrists, which is not good when I have a show that night.

So how do you like to train on tour?

I am all about building myself as much as possible before I have to go out on tour. Trying to have a normal schedule while you are on the road is impossible. I fully dedicate to getting in as good of shape as I can before we start. Then while I’m out I will do a lot of body-weight exercises in my room, or wherever I can. Lots of push-ups, pull-ups, and I will plank. Sometimes I am able to get out on a run. I also like to bring battle ropes with me, just in case I get somewhere to set them up. Then I can really work out.

Do you find it difficult to eat vegan while you are touring?

I will say that it has gotten a lot easier than it used to be. Vegan restaurants are everywhere now, especially in Los Angeles. (I am an investor in Crossroads, which has an amazing chef in Tal Ronnen.) There is this great app and website called Happy Cow that helps you find all the vegan options that are closest to you. I use that all of the time. For snacks I will eat a lot of strawberries, blueberries, and acai berries. I find myself eating plates of broccoli or cauliflower at times. I also bring a Juicero with us on tour, and I will use that to make some pretty awesome juices.

Do you share with your fellow Blink 182 members?

Definitely. Matt Skiba is vegan as well. Mark [Hoppus] is closer to vegetarian. I also have everyone doing E3Live. We are full-on getting ready for this tour, and we want to bring the best show possible to the Blink fans.

Travis Barker’s Go-To Shake

  • 1 cup Ripple Milk
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp plant-based glutamine
  • 1 tbsp plant-based protein powder (22 Days Nutrition)

*This previously read “that took the life of his friend DJ AM.” DJ AM died of a drug overdose on August 28th, 2009.

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